Climate talks continue in Polish coal country

Katowice, Poland, the city hosting the COP24 global warming summit, is paradoxically the capital of coal country. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh goes inside a coal mine to see how it differs from the climate change talks happening on the surface.

Posted: Dec 15, 2018 8:16 AM
Updated: Dec 15, 2018 8:28 AM

The UN climate talks in Poland -- an attempt to save the world from disastrous levels of global warming -- are sputtering toward a conclusion after two weeks of discord.

"They're going nowhere -- for Tuvalu, for small counties," Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu, an island country in the Pacific, said Friday morning. "What we have on the table is very disappointing, very frustrating. We are unhappy. We are going back on the Paris Agreement -- what we agreed to three years ago. It looks like people still do not trust each other. There is a lack of confidence [and] trust on the principles of working together."

Sopoaga said the United States alone is standing in the way of agreement.

"It's the White House alone that's dragging their feet," he said. "Our country is already going underneath the water. I hope the White House reconsiders its position."

At issue for countries like Tuvalu, which are feeling the effects of climate change but doing little to cause it, is debate about whether to "welcome" a recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that says pollution from fossil fuels and other sources must be cut dramatically in just 12 years to avoid disastrous warming.

Last weekend at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait declined to "welcome" that report, instead wanting only to "note" its existence, which is light-years away in diplomat speak. That disagreement, along with events at COP24 that promoted fossil fuel technologies, have cast a cloud over these negotiations, which are being held in Polish coal country.

US President Donald Trump has pledged to pull out of the Paris Agreement. That can't technically happen until 2020, though, so the nation still has a presence in these talks.

Not everyone here sees the US playing the spoiler role in Poland.

"When Trump announced that the US would pull out of the Paris Agreement, we thought it would be reflected strongly in having a US administration blocking negotiations," said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, president of a previous round of these negotiations, COP20, and global lead for climate and energy issues at World Wide Fund for Nature, a US-based environmental group.

"Fortunately, that hasn't happened," he said. "The US negotiators and head of delegation have not been a strong supporter -- but haven't blocked negotiations."

The point of the negotiations is to come up with a "rulebook" that will make real the Paris Agreement on climate change, to which countries agreed at these talks in 2015.

New, but not final, drafts of those rules were released on Thursday night and will continue to be revised. The talks were supposed to end Friday but now appear to be headed into the weekend, according to several observers and negotiators involved in the discussions.

Among the issues ministers are debating are rules for reporting emissions; financing -- or even reparations of sorts -- for developing countries as they deal with the effects of climate change; and, importantly, the symbolic issue about "welcoming" the best international science.

The Paris Agreement calls for countries to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius -- or at most 2 degrees -- above pre-industrial levels. It's a global "peer pressure" agreement that relies on nations submitting their own plans for cutting pollution and reporting on those efforts. There are no financial penalties, for example, if nations fail to meet their pledges.

Partly for those reasons, it's crucial that there are clear and strict rules that require countries to report how much progress they are or aren't making to reduce pollution, said Bill Hare, a climate scientist and director of Climate Analytics, a nonprofit research and policy group.

Aspects of the current rules are "weak," he said, but could change.

"This is still in play as far as I'm concerned," he said Friday afternoon.

"We have some real concerns about certain areas," said David Waskow, international climate director at the World Resources Institute, an environmental policy group. He identified the draft rules around emissions trading as one weakness. Another potential blocker in the ongoing negotiations "loss and damage": aid to poorer countries hurt by global warming.

There remains a sense of uncertainty in the air in Poland.

Until a final draft of the rulebook is available, it's hard to know how things will turn out, said Todd Stern, the United States climate envoy under the Obama administration.

"From what I've seen so far, it's edging its way toward a decent outcome -- I hope," Stern said, noting that most meetings are taking place behind closed doors.

"But we haven't seen a document yet. Big things can happen between documents."

Others are even more optimistic. Teresa Ribera, Spain's minister for ecological transition, is "sure" that an agreement will be reached in Poland, she said Friday afternoon. "There's nothing that could explain why there would not be an agreement here," she said.

The main hall of the sterile conference center in Poland where the talks are being held was filled twice on Friday with protesters demanding swifter action from world leaders. A group of Polish children, inspired by a teenager from Sweden, walked out of school this morning. On Twitter, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen, called for a global walkout for climate action.

"It's about time those with power and the resources come down to see what life is like with the people," said Taneti Maamau, president of Kiribati, another island nation in the Pacific Ocean. He was overlooking protests in the conference center on Friday afternoon. Environmentalists were chanting "keep it in the ground" as they held signs saying, "Which side are you on?" and "System change not climate change."

Countries like Tuvalu, which arguably have the most to lose if these talks derail, were on edge about the results of the rulemaking conference, which follows several alarming reports about the clear state of climate science and the fact that global pollution is still climbing.

"It's so unfortunate -- despite the warnings from the IPCC special report -- that we are stuck in our own self-interested agendas here in this process," Tuvalu's Sopoaga said of the UN report.

"We should rise beyond this," he said. "We cannot allow this to happen."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 587049

Reported Deaths: 9287
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion810691296
Lake44121665
Allen31797541
Hamilton28178303
St. Joseph26684369
Elkhart24057340
Vanderburgh18519213
Tippecanoe17305121
Johnson14398284
Porter14342159
Hendricks13793241
Madison10509212
Vigo10432171
Clark10151129
Monroe9029108
Delaware8782129
LaPorte8721153
Kosciusko784677
Howard7834137
Warrick636790
Hancock633297
Bartholomew624294
Floyd6098105
Wayne5903156
Grant5799109
Dubois541670
Boone531467
Morgan512388
Marshall492484
Henry491164
Cass469060
Noble458757
Dearborn454544
Jackson413145
Shelby401178
Lawrence379475
Clinton363639
Gibson355056
DeKalb336363
Montgomery333851
Harrison326042
Knox325439
Miami308243
Steuben304940
Adams294435
Whitley292325
Wabash291645
Ripley290845
Putnam282447
Huntington281257
Jasper280733
White265738
Daviess260772
Jefferson248538
Fayette241348
Decatur241282
Greene232460
Posey230026
Wells228547
LaGrange223461
Clay216432
Scott216437
Randolph207540
Jennings191335
Sullivan188531
Spencer179917
Fountain178625
Washington175018
Starke170741
Jay162021
Fulton158829
Owen157837
Carroll151315
Orange150533
Rush148118
Perry145327
Vermillion144333
Franklin142533
Parke12788
Tipton127332
Pike113125
Blackford107022
Pulaski94637
Newton89020
Brown85530
Benton84110
Crawford7479
Martin69213
Warren6537
Switzerland6175
Union6063
Ohio4647
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 821507

Reported Deaths: 10135
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin96935704
Cuyahoga81526972
Hamilton60913438
Montgomery41445399
Summit33096726
Lucas29981591
Butler29513227
Stark24608400
Warren18792139
Lorain17916207
Mahoning16710335
Lake15255135
Clermont15053104
Delaware1374277
Licking12595132
Trumbull12352301
Fairfield1211380
Greene11532132
Medina11033165
Clark10557264
Wood9901154
Allen9481126
Portage8802105
Miami880173
Richland8748116
Marion7305113
Tuscarawas7095174
Columbiana7047124
Pickaway699850
Wayne6729162
Muskingum665342
Erie5866117
Hancock537090
Ross526087
Scioto514862
Geauga478255
Darke456089
Ashtabula437268
Union429228
Lawrence428951
Mercer423387
Sandusky419062
Seneca411755
Auglaize410959
Huron409138
Shelby408521
Jefferson400466
Belmont392840
Washington367940
Putnam363672
Athens36229
Madison337928
Knox334922
Ashland329138
Fulton324243
Defiance317078
Crawford311968
Preble310034
Brown294419
Logan291829
Ottawa280534
Clinton278143
Williams268966
Highland261318
Jackson255243
Guernsey239425
Champaign239227
Fayette224529
Morrow22194
Perry220517
Holmes217562
Henry208847
Hardin203032
Coshocton197120
Van Wert196244
Wyandot189949
Gallia189126
Adams165515
Pike163416
Hocking161923
Carroll148016
Paulding139021
Noble117540
Meigs102421
Monroe95227
Harrison8578
Morgan78227
Vinton65613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Angola
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 28°
Huntington
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 20°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Lima
Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 20°
Seasonal Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events